While other parts of the country are enjoying such seasonal delights as asparagus, this unlikely pairing of sweet, caramelized parsnips with rich egg tagliatelle is a celebration of what early spring here in Northern New England has on offer. The name tagliatelle is from tagliare, or “to cut.” With the inclusion of eggs, this ribbon pasta from Bologna was traditionally reserved for feast days. Fettucine, the southern version of tagliatelle, is slightly wider (though some sources say less) and thicker, and can be used interchangeably. If using bacon instead of pancetta, look for something on the less smoky side to keep the bacon from overwhelming the flavor of the parsnips. As for the parsnips, thinner slices will result in a crispier texture.
Tagliatelle with Spring-Dug Parsnips and Bacon
9 ounces dried or 12 ounces fresh egg tagliatelle
4 ounces pancetta or bacon, cut into ¼-inch pieces
¼ cup olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 pound parsnips, peeled and thinly sliced
9 oz. egg tagliatelle (dried)
¼ cup thinly shredded or chopped flat-leaf parsley or chives, or a mix
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
– In a large saute pan, cook the pancetta or bacon over medium heat until the fat is rendered and begins to brown. Remove the browned pieces and set aside, leaving the fat behind. Turn the heat up to medium high, add the olive oil and butter, then the parsnips and saute until golden brown and slightly crispy. Move the parsnips to the side of the pan, add the garlic to the space left behind and cook until fragrant.
– Cook the tagliatelle in salted water until tender yet al dente. Drain, reserving some of the pasta water; add the pasta and reserved pancetta or bacon to the pan with the parsnips. Toss over heat to coat the pasta, adding cooking water if necessary to loosen the sauce. Add the parsley or chives, and season with salt and a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper. Finish with a slick of good olive oil and a shower of grated parmesan.
Recipe adapted from “The Babbo Cookbook” by Mario Batali.